“ CHEVRONS “

As defined by the “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary”, chevron means a rafter of a roof, a figure or pattern having the shape of a V or inverted V, or an heraldic charge consisting of two diagonal stripes meeting at an angle, usually with the point up, and currently also one or more chevron-shaped stripes indicating rank and service, as used in the Armed Forces .

At first chevrons were used with ‘point’ down from approximately 1820 to 1903 – between 1903 and 1905, points, both up and down, were worn, and FINALLY chevrons were to be worn, points upward, by AR dated 30 November 1905 . A breakthrough in method of wear, including official numbers, was achieved in 1920, when the number of insignia was reduced to 7 and 6 pay grades were established ! War Department, Circular No. 303, 5 August 1920 stated chevrons for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates First Class would be worn on the left sleeve (only on 1 sleeve), point up, and they would be made of olive-drab material on a dark blue background .

Designs & Titles (WD Cir. No. 303, 5 Aug 1920)

MASTER SERGEANT (First Grade)


TECHNICAL SERGEANT (Second Grade)


FIRST SERGEANT (Second Grade)



STAFF SERGEANT (Third Grade)


SERGEANT (Fourth Grade)

CORPORAL (Fifth Grade)

PRIVATE FIRST CLASS (Sixth Grade)

three chevrons arc of three bars, upper bar of arc forming a tie to lower chevron (authorized 1920-1948)

three chevrons arc of two bars, upper bar of arc forming a tie to lower chevron (authorized 1920-1948)

three chevrons arc of two bars, upper bar of arc forming a tie to lower chevron lozenge in angle between lower chevron and upper bar (authorized 1920-1942)

three chevrons arc of one bar forming a tie to lower chevron (authorized 1920-1948)

three chevrons (authorized 1920-1948)

two chevrons (authorized 1920-1948)

one chevron (authorized 1920-1948)




Chevrons for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates,
First Class as worn on uniform sleeves (FM 21-100 - 23 July 1941)


Designs & Titles (WD Cir. No. 5, 8 Jan 1942)

Following grades were added by War Department Circular No. 5, 8 January 1942, i.e. TECHNICIAN Third Grade, TECHNICIAN Fourth Grade, and TECHNICIAN Fifth Grade . Later, the corresponding chevrons were to receive an additional symbol, the letter “T” (Technician) by War Department Change C-1, AR 600-35, 4 September 1942 (see our separate heading on the subject) .

Moreover the FIRST SERGEANT was now moved (from Second Grade) to First Grade by Change C-3, AR 600-35, 22 September 1942, the designation now read : three chevrons and arc of three (instead of only two) bars, upper bar forming a tie to lower chevron hollow lozenge in angle between lower chevron and upper bar . The same change also included the material as khaki-colored cotton chevrons, arcs, “T” , and lozenge on dark blue cotton background, or olive-drab colored wool chevrons, arcs, “T”, and lozenge on dark blue wool background. This was the first change modifying current chevron designs dating back to 1920 ! No more changes would be introduced in WWII; in fact the very first next change made by the War Department took place in 1948 … and involved disappearance of Sergeant (Fourth Grade), see WD Cir. No. 202, 7 Jul 1948, which then added a recruit with 7th grade pay scale … Technicians were finally deleted, effective 1 Aug 1948 .

change in First Sergeant rank of grade

(from left to right)

First Sergeant rank (after 22 September 1942 – authorized 1942-1948)
First Sergeant rank (before 22 September 1942 – authorized 1920-1942)



In 1944-45, only 10 insignia of grade were in use for NCOs and Pfc i.e. First Sergeant - Master Sergeant – Technical Sergeant – Staff Sergeant – Technician 3d Grade – Sergeant – Technician 4th Grade – Corporal – Technician 5th Grade – Private First Class

Description & How to Wear (T/BA No. 21, 7 Jan 1943)

Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, Service, cotton (khaki device on dark blue back) per cotton shirt, combat jacket, field jacket, herringbone twill jacket, herringbone twill one-piece suit, for NCO and Pfc, as authorized by AR 600-35 & AR 600-40

Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, Service, wool (olive-drab device on dark blue back) per wool service coat, flannel shirt, overcoat, mackinaw, for NCO and Pfc, as authorized by AR 600-35 & AR 600-40

Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, cotton, khaki, Technician 3d Grade ( 4th & 5th Grades) per cotton shirt, combat jacket, field jacket, herringbone twill jacket, herringbone twill one-piece suit, for Tec 3 Grade ( 4th & 5th Grades)

Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, wool, olive-drab, Technician 3d Grade ( 4th & 5th Grades) per wool service coat, flannel shirt, overcoat, mackinaw, for Tec 3 ( 4th & 5th Grades)


Chevrons for Noncommissioned Officers, Technicians, and Privates First Class, as per AR 600-35,
in use from 1920 to 1948, except the old version of First Sergeant, authorized until 1942 –
insignia of grade are positioned on ground forming an edging around entire insignia and between each chevron


Brassards with superimposed Chevrons (10 Nov 1941)

Brassard, with Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, Service, wool (olive-drab device on dark blue back) superimposed, Corporal per Acting Corporal, for wear by trainees acting as Noncommissioned Officers at Replacement Training Centers and in the Army Specialized Training Programs, also at all Schools and Training Centers for the Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Army Service Forces

Brassard, with Insignia, Sleeve, Chevron, Service, wool (olive-drab device on dark blue back) superimposed, Sergeant per Acting Sergeant, for wear by trainees acting as Noncommissioned Officers at Replacement Training Centers and in the Army Specialized Training Programs, also at all Schools and Training Centers for the Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Army Service Forces

Brassards formally introduced by the WD and in use at Schools & Training Centers

(from left to right)

Acting Sergeant (three olive-drab chevrons on dark blue brassard)
Acting Colonel (three yellow parallel stripes on dark blue brassard)
Acting Second Lieutenant (one white stripe on dark blue brassard)



while Brassards for Acting NCOs were made of dark blue cloth – those for Acting Officers were not only made of dark blue cloth, but were also issued in olive-drab material

Remark : as per AR 600-35, similar brassards were introduced 15 Mar 1943 (extension of Officer Training programs), they consisted of colored, yellow or white stripes, sewed parallel with the long side of the dark blue or olive-drab armband, and were used by Candidate Officers temporarily assigned as Acting Officers at Schools and Training Centers (OCS however, had their own brassard with distinctive OCS design)

Technicians 3d, 4th, 5th Grade (Specialists) (6 Jan 1942)

Specialist Ratings to be discontinued !
The present system of Army Specialist Ratings is to be discontinued in the near future, and a new system is to be put into effect … this will give Noncommissioned Officer rank to Specialists, who will be known as Technicians 3d, 4th, 5th Grade, depending upon the pay grade to which they are appointed . (War Department, Circular No. 264, 1941) . The WD added three “Technician” grades, in order to replace the 6 Classes of Specialists, provided for Privates and Privates First Class, allowing those “Technicians” to achieve NCO status, though they were forbidden to exercise any tactical control !

1942 - Technicians will thus be Noncommissioned Officers, and will receive pay and allowances of the pay grade specified by their title (i.e. a T/5 would receive same pay as a Corporal, a T/4 belonged to the same category as a Buck Sergeant, and a T/3 would be entitled the same pay as a Staff Sergeant) . Their relative rank among other Noncommissioned Officers of their organization will be as follows (WD, Cir. No. 5, 8 Jan 1942, Par. 3, AR 600-15) :

Rank

Master Sergeant
Technical Sergeant/First Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Technician
Sergeant
Technician
Corporal
Technician
Private First Class

Number of Grade as an EM

First
Second
Third
Third
Fourth
Fourth
Fifth
Fifth
Sixth




Chevrons for Technicians 3d Grade, 4th Grade, and 5th Grade
as worn on uniform sleeves (AR 600-35 - 4 Sep 1942)


Technicians 3d, 4th, 5th Grades will rank immediately below the Staff Sergeants, Sergeants or Corporals of their Grade ! (Par. 9, AR 600-15) . Change 1 to AR 600-35, 4 Sep 1942, added the letter “T” to the formerly prescribed chevrons for grades 3, 4 and 5 . Between Technicians of the same grade, or between NCOs of the same grade, precedence is determined as follows :

(a) according to the dates of rank stated in their warrants
(b) when dates of rank are the same, by length of Active Service in the Army
(c) when such dates of rank and length of Active Service in the Army are the same, by length of Service in the Marine Corps or the Navy
(d) when the foregoing tests are not sufficient, by lot


Technicians being Noncommissioned Officers, are appointed by the same person who is authorized to appoint NCOs for the particular organization – i.e. the Regimental or Battalion Commander in most cases .

Remark : Specialists 5th and 6th Class – disrating of Privates and Privates First Class holding 5th and 6th Class Specialist ratings is not mandatory before June 30, 1942 .

MORE about Chevrons

Some chevrons were also used, although unauthorized by the War Department ! Between 1920 > 1942 servicemen used light brown colored chevrons on a plain khaki cotton background . They were made in large numbers, as early as 1936 by some insignia makers, who respected the original design, but only modified colors – these new and different Army NCO and Pfc rank insignia were mostly worn with khaki summer attire, and in the North African, Mediterranean, and Pacific Theaters of Operation . They may sometimes be observed on khaki shirts, summer coats, and even on jump suits of paratroops in North Africa and Sicily too … and were still worn by some Veterans of latter campaigns, while fighting in Normandy (E.T.O.) ! These light brown & khaki-colored rank insignia were also in use with members of the Army Air Corps , and were then adorned with the winged propeller . It should be noted that WAC personnel often used the light rank insignia on their beige dresses … 10 different chevrons were manufactured in these light brown – khaki color shades (Pfc – Tec 5 – Cpl – Tec 4 – Sgt – Tec 3 – S/Sgt – T/Sgt – 1/Sgt – M/Sgt)

Other unofficial chevrons were those intended for wear by Army Air Corps personnel between 1920 > 1948 – they respected the official (i.e. authorized) design of olive-drab (or khaki) chevrons on dark blue background, BUT included the typical Army Air Forces winged propeller, in the center of the rank insignia ! There were 12 such unofficial NCO & Pfc rank insignia intended for wear by Air Corps personnel (Pfc-Spec 1st Class – Pfc-Spec 2d Class – Pfc-Spec 3d Class – Pfc-Spec 4th Class – Pfc-Spec 5th Class – Pfc-Spec 6th Class - Pfc - Cpl – Sgt – S/Sgt – T/Sgt – M/Sgt)


unauthorized light brown / khaki
Army chevrons

unauthorized olive-drab / dark blue
Army Air Corps chevrons


Quite a number of unauthorized Specialist chevrons were manufactured and worn between 1920 and 1942, even some were still in use up to 1948 . Specialty devices were often added, and placed in the available angle between the upper bar of the arc forming a tie to the lower chevron – these devices were usually approved for local wear by individual Company and Regimental COs and were privately purchased . Various branches had already introduced ‘specialty devices’, such as the “Signal Corps” and the “Medical Department”, and additional branch insignia were to be further incorporated into chevron designs, such as “Quartermaster Corps” mical Warfare Service”, etc. – it also explains the variety in chevron styles and designs - many were entirely manufactured ‘on site’ in order to include the ‘branch’ insignia, while others were adapted and modified to add the specialty device … the Chevrons with ‘specialty’ devices should have been abolished in 1920, with the changes introduced by the WD, but many continued to be worn, mainly those introduced by the Army Air Forces (winged propeller device) .

While official issue rank insignia (chevrons) were not always around in the field, NCOs and Pfc often stenciled, or painted by hand, their respective insignia of rank on their fatigue jacket or coat sleeves (used by Infantry, Air Corps, Paratroops, and Marines) .


unauthorized stenciled/painted
Army chevrons

Combat Leader Identification tab under
Master Sergeant chevron


Another special sleeve insignia (not a chevron) was the Combat Leader Identification tab, it was a gray/green wool strip that was sewn horizontally just below the chevron (on both sleeves) . It was introduced in the E.T.O. June 1944, and while first confined to NCOs and Enlisted personnel to indicate those with direct command responsibility in small combat units (like a squad), it was later authorized for wear by Officers at all echelons (up to Army General Officers) . Authority was expanded to also include personnel whose primary mission was to direct Combat Training of Infantry, Armor and Artillery (DA, Cir. No. 315, 8 Oct 1945) . Although initially intended for the “Infantry”, it was authorized for Infantry, Armored, Airborne, and Cavalry Divisions, certain Engineer and Chemical Battalions, as well as Artillery and Constabulary organizations . Adopted on Armywide scale by DA, Cir. No. 202, 7 July 1948 . Color later changed to a lighter green shade, while the tab was moved from sleeve to shoulder strap …

unofficial Private First Class Specialist 2d Class (1920-1948)
official First Sergeant chevron (1920-1942) arc of two bars only
unofficial Staff Sergeant/Medical Department (1920-48) with caduceus
unofficial Master Sergeant Army Air Forces (1920-48) with winged propeller



unofficial light brown / khaki Tec 5 Army chevron

unofficial olive-drab / dark blue Technical Sergeant AAF chevron